Trying again

We had another fairly chilly night, but things are definitely warming up again. Enough that the outside cats were all running around by the door when I came out this morning!

They were both hungry and thirsty! Even Junk Pile cat didn’t quite run away, waiting for some food. The kibble bowls were all empty, and even their heated water bowl was almost dry. The other bowls were frozen, so they were very happy for the warm water.

We really need to work on getting Creamsicle Jr. to let us near him. I want to get a look at one of his eyes. It seems to be leaky.

This is the same pussy willow I posted a picture of, less than a week ago. It’s really, really trying to develop those catkins! It should be warm enough from now on for them to finally develop fully. The brief cold of the past few days set it back quite a bit.

We never got much snow out of what should be the last winter blow out, and it’s already pretty much gone. Which means things are still very dry out there. I’m hoping we will get some good rain this spring. We’re going to need it!

I received an interesting hint that the weather is warming up and expecting to stay that way. I got a bank notification that a charge from Veseys came through. I expect to soon get a shipping notification. The only things we have with them right now are items that will be shipped when it’s time for planting. It was a very small charge, so not everything that’s waiting is going to be on it’s way, but the ground it still frozen solid. I’m curious to check what we ordered that can be planted this early in the season!

We had another bank transaction that had my husband and I wondering. Something got credited to our account, but neither of recognized the listing it was under. It seemed to be a refund of some sort. It took me a while, but I finally found the original debit, almost a month ago. After some searching, my husband finally figured out it was the new ergonomic keyboard he had ordered for me that we were waiting for (not the only thing we are still waiting for, either). For some reason, we got refunded, but have had no notification. He’d ordered it from this company (the name of which was not what was listed in the bank statements, lending to the confusion) as a “guest” and gave them my email address, but I’d received no notifications from them. I even searched my spam folder. He thinks he may have accidentally put in an old email address of mine that I no longer have. We decided to try and order the keyboard again, but this time he created an account with the company, rather than ordering as “guest”.

Which is when he found out what happened. As soon as he tried to place the order, he got a warning that they don’t ship to box numbers. He never got that warning when ordering as a guest, and since the email address was likely goofed, they couldn’t get through to us to fix the problem, so they canceled the order and refunded the money.

Unfortunately, he’d ordered it originally at a sale price. The sale is over, so this time, it’ll be full price. Ah, well.

While he was going through the purchase, he just had to call me over to see the shipping costs. There were three options, with different expected delivery dates. Two of them were free, but the expedited shipping cost was actually more than the full price of the keyboard. Including taxes!

There was still the issue of their not delivering to box numbers. We don’t get postal delivery, so there’s no point in giving them our physical address. Hardly anyone can find our place, even then. This is not a new problem, unfortunately, but my husband found a workaround. He inputs the physical address for our post office/general store. Since the package would have his name on it, and the population here is so low, the post master knows which box number such packages belong to, so we still get our parcel pick up card in the mail box.

It may still take 2 or 3 weeks to get here, but it should work.

It’s interesting how much more difficult it has been to get things delivered out here today, compared to when I was growing up here. We didn’t even had driveway markers until not all that long ago, but people could still find us with our section number. The modern delivery systems just sort of assume people live in cities and towns, with street addresses. Box numbers are now associated with security problems or scam artists. Never mind that so many people still use box numbers, even if they live in towns. The town we go to for most of our shopping and errands, for example, has an organized street address system (unlike our hamlet, which does have some street names, but no street numbers), but all mail goes to box numbers at the post office. If there is only a street address, the post office employees have to figure out whose box number it belongs to. A little more difficult when the population is several thousand, instead of a couple hundred.

You’d think, with modern technology, it would actually be easier, but the systems don’t recognize section numbers, can’t figure out our rural road systems, and don’t accept box numbers.

So we have to get creative, just to get things to go to our nearest post office!

I love my technology, but sometimes, it just makes things harder! 😀

The Re-Farmer

Growth

So the series of severe storms that looked like they were going to head right over us… didn’t. They passed to the East of us, instead, though we did get some nice rain.

I’m good with that.

I headed out to check on things this evening, and was greeted by a Rolando Moon!

She seemed quite happy to see me and let me pet her in the tree. Right up until she decided to grab my hand with her paws and try to bite me.

Ah, Rolando. She doesn’t change. 😀

I took the opportunity to take the grass clippings I’d left beside the carrots and beets and use it to mulch in between the plots. Creamsicle joined me and did his rolling around thing to get me to pet him. Unfortunately, he decided to roll around on the baby beets! What a bad boy. 😀

I completely forgot to take any pictures, though, as I started to hear growling from Rolando Moon in the tree. It took me a while to see which cat was after her and, much to my surprise, it was Butterscotch! A quick spritz with the hose got her away, but then Creamsicle went after her!

Creamsicle got a thorough soaking before he took off!

Other things have gotten a good soaking, and are thriving for it. Like my mother’s lilies.

The flowers are so big, they’re starting fall over!

The maple grove is looking absolutely lush.

When we first moved here, this area was full of tall crab grass, like you can see in the background, broken branches and dead trees. Once the big stuff was cleared away, all I had at the time to cut the grass was the weed trimmer. Under the grass, it was pretty sparse, and mostly covered with dead leaves.

Last summer I was finally able to mow in here and, again, it was pretty sparse with lots of dead leaves. Some new growth was starting to show in patches, but not much. I had to be careful mowing in there, as so much debris was being thrown out and blown around – usually right back at me! 😀

Now… well, you can see it’s changed quite a bit!

I don’t know about the shorter plants; I think they’re a flower, but I’m not sure. Sprinkled throughout are taller ones that I know a flowers. You can’t really tell them apart in the picture, though!

While there, I noticed some other new growth.

Willow is just amazing. This tree is full of rot and dying. This section of it broke in a blizzard last October (you can read about it here). Yet now, this almost completely rotted out section is throwing out new growth! There are small bunches of branches like this in several places. (Read most about the storm damage here, and here, and how it was before, here.)

It is not the only storm damaged tree that is showing new growth.

The elm tree in front of the kitchen had lost a couple of large branches, including one that had broken, but still needed to be cut. (Click here to see the clean up process.) When I cut loose the broken part, the remains of the branch, free of the weight, sprung up much higher than it was before.

It’s hard to see, but that arrow is pointing to the cut end of the branch.

It had no smaller branches around there at all when it was cut. Now, it’s absolutely bushy!

It’s amazing how resilient some trees can be.

The Re-Farmer

Storm clean up: the old willow

I’d posted a video I took after this job was done, previously. I am honestly surprised more of this tree did not come down in the storm. I hope it survives many more storms, because it’s such a beautiful old tree!

The first thing I had to do was assess the fallen branch more closely.

The branch was long enough to reach the double row of elms heading towards the garden gate.

As I started cutting away sections, I was able to see that the whole thing had been kept from hitting the ground by the skinny little top of the branch that landed on an elm!

Amazing, that that was all it took to keep such a big, heavy, branch from falling all the way to the ground!

After clearing away enough branches that I could reach the main part with the extended pruning saw, I just start pulling.

Eventually, the top came down, and I was able to start breaking it down from the end.

The main branch ended up being held up by another branch I’d already cut away part of. While I continued cutting away smaller sections, it looked like I would have issues with where it cracked at the trunk. How would I even reach it? I had expect this to be the easy part of the job, but it took a lot more work just to cut away pieces, so I could reach where I needed to go!

Plus, I had to get the weight off the branch that was still holding the whole thing up, so I grabbed a branch and started dragging it off to the side. It all twisted at the cracked trunk.

Hmmm…

Little by little, I cut sections away until I reached the cracked trunk.

This part of the trunk was too high for me to reach, and I couldn’t see how I could cut it away. It would be too dangerous to use the step ladder and a buck saw.

However, it was really quite rotten, and it twisted quite a bit when I was manhandling it to get those sections cut away. What would happen if I pulled on the cut ends?

I found the whole thing easily twisted around, and pieces of the trunk started to fall off.

What I thought would be the hardest part of the job turned out to be the easiest part – it just pulled right down!

The pile at the base of the tree is all from that one branch that broke.

I’m leaving it there until spring, when I plan to take down the rest of the rotten trunk. I’d already added lots of other downed branches to the pile by the fire pit.

So that is done for now!

When I started working on this area, though, I spotted more storm damage that I’d missed, because I simply hadn’t slogged my way far enough through the snow.

That will be my next post. 🙂

The Re-Farmer

Rotten

Things have been warm enough for the snow to mostly melt away, so today I was finally able to go around the yard and take care of the storm damaged trees.

I will process and upload photos, probably in a couple of days, but until then I wanted to share this video I took of the big willow tree, after I’d finally gotten the broken section down.

The base of this section is pretty much compost.

I really am amazed that this is the only section that came down in the storm.

I’m leaving the remains where I’ve put them, to clean up in the spring. That is when I plan to take down the rest of the rotting trunk.

Assuming it doesn’t come down on its own, over the winter.

The Re-Farmer

Long day and ready to crash!

I headed out with my daughter to drop her off for work earlier than usual. She was very kind enough to be willing to be stuck outside until someone with a key showed up (which, thankfully, did not turn out to be long) so that I could head over to another town almost an hour’s drive from her work. It was a court date for our vandal, this time in a town closer to us – though not with the extra driving this morning! *L*

Continue reading

Clean up; west fence line, moving north

It’s been a much cooler day today, so I took advantage of it and continued working along our west fence line.

In all, the before and after photos below represent about 2 1/2 hours work.  This includes pausing to take some video, and also pausing to drag away the branches and tree trunks I took down.

What a job!

Let’s start at that group of three maples, where I left off last time. Continue reading

Front Yard Clean Up – the shrine

Cleaning up the south yard, I finally got around to working on my mother’s little shrine area.

Here are some before pictures.

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That statue of Mary has been featured in a few different places in the yard, if I remember correctly.

I don’t know what the pedestal was for.

The little structure to the right is an actual shrine.  My oldest brother built it for my mother; it is based on the kapliczki, or roadside shrines, in Poland that my mother remembers from her youth.  Sadly, it has not been maintained over the years, and the wood is starting to rot in many places.  For a while, it had a place of honour, right on the concrete landing at the main entrance.

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Another “before” view of the area, at the fence line.  The post in the foreground is for the clothes line.  I’m guessing the rope is to keep the post from being pulled by the weight of clothes on the line, but with the amount of slack on there, I’m not quite sure what it is really there to accomplish. 😀

The first area I started cleaning up was the tractor tire planter.  It was overrun with vines!  The roots had circled under the edge of the tire, with two big clumps of vines pushing their way out in such a large mass, they actually deformed the tire!

I’m starting to develop a strong dislike for those vines. 😉

Once I was able to reach it safely, I took the statue out completely.  Then started working around the back, cutting away and pulling up a huge mass of dead vines.

I then found a whole other flower garden area!

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Bricked up and everything.

I vaguely remember noticing a couple of bricks there, shortly after the snow melted away, but did not expect to find this!

It had nothing but dead vines and leaves in it.  Any flowers that were ever planted there were long gone.

Feeling how my feet sank when I stepped in it to cut and clean away the debris, I figure it never actually had soil added to it.  It’s all basically composted leaf debris!

Here are the after pictures.

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When the tire planter and bricked areas were clear, I pruned what I could reach of the willow trees, taking down more vines that had climbed their way up the trunks in the process.

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Then I gave Mary a good scrubbing, before returning her to her concrete block.  There was moss starting to grow on her!

You can really see the one spot where a clump of vine roots distorted the tire.  The other spot is hidden by the pedestal.

With this area, I don’t know about planting anything there again.  What I’d really like to do is get rid of the tire planter.  I’d like to get rid of all the tire planters!  It will be a huge job to clear the tractor tire planters, so it might end up waiting until next year.

Until then, I just want to make sure those vines to take over again!

After finishing this, it was all I could do not to just keep on going and work in another section of the yard!

Have I mentioned, I really love this kind of work? 😀

The Re-Farmer

Fire Pit Area Cleanup; between buildings

I went back to cleaning up the West yard, by the fire pit area, today, focusing on the area between the other house and the log cabin that’s slowly disintegrating.

Photo heavy post ahead! 😀

The girls finished clearing away the last wood pile from when I cleaned up in the East end of the maple grove.  Before they went into the house, we got rid of the old freezer that has been sitting along the side of the other house, for many years.

It was a beast of a freezer, but it is now finally out of the yard, and in the pile of stuff that will be hauled away in the fall.

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The baskets and foam were inside the freezer.  The chair and the plastic thing on it were dug out from between some maple trees.

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It took two of us pushing, one pulling and steering, to drag that old freezer out!

Modern freezers are much lighter.  😀

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When I started cleaning up the remains to haul away, I found even more Styrofoam, buried under the leaves.

Time to start working on the rows of trees directly behind the other house.

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This involved cutting away dead branches, suckers and picking up fallen branches, just to GET to the stuff I needed to clear away.

The rain barrel that was there appears to not have any cracks or holes in it, so I just set it aside for now.

The roll of wire fencing was almost completely buried in leaves and dead branches.

That plastic bin on top?  It was upside down on the ground.  After lifting it up, I found…

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… old cat litter.

As I was clearing away an area at the base of a maple tree, I found more cat litter, under the leaves and branches.

It appears that, when my dad had a cat, this was where the old litter was dumped.  I think that plastic bin is what was used as a litter box and, when the cat died, it just got dumped into the trees and left there.

That cat died many years ago.

I was also finding lots of horse droppings.  I’m told my younger brother had let his horses into the yard.  Considering how many piles of their droppings I’m finding all over the place, this was either done often, or for a very long time.

I’m not impressed.

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More stuff to add to the haul-away pile.  Some stove pipe, a roll of cable, aluminum sheets and… I don’t know what that plastic thing is, but it made moving the stove pipe out much easier. ;-D

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While clearing dead branches away near the building, I found all sorts of things buried in the leaves.  I’ve just leaned them here, for now, for clearing out later.

More was added, before I was done for the day!

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In the foreground is an area I’d gone into with the weed trimmer recently.  I had to stop, because I was finding so many dead branches, so I started a pile at this end that I cleaned up today.  In the background, you can see where I hadn’t used the weed trimmer yet.

There was a LOT of dead branches in here.

I also cleared dead branches from the trees themselves, as well as pruning back live branches and seedlings.

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This is another section I’d used the weed trimmer on previously.  For now, I’m ignoring the dead branches and trees on the other side of the fence.

That tree in the foreground?

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Completely dead.  I thought there was one branch that still had green leaves on it, but that branch is from the tree on the other side of the fence.

So this is going to have to come down at some point.

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While clearing away the dead branches, I found more metal, buried under the leaves.

There was some cable leaning against the building that I thought was rolled up, like some I’d already cleared away elsewhere.  It turned out to be only partially rolled up.  Most of it was stretched almost the length of the building, all buried under the leaves.

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When my daughter came out to let me know supper was almost ready, she helped me take down this dead branch from one of the group of three maples near the fire pit.  I started cutting it with the pruning saw while she used a rake to reach the other end and applied gentle downward pressure to make it easier for me to saw.  Then when it started breaking under its own weight, I just stepped back and let her pull it down.

I feel so much better, now that it’s down.  There is another huge dead branch just above it, but it will have to wait for another day.

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Here are the rows of “living fence” my mother planted.  There is a third row closer to the log cabin.  I did more clean up and weed trimming after this picture was taken.  We will have to go back and work our way towards the log cabin.  That area is filled with dead branches, so I can’t even go in with the weed trimmer, yet.  There’s quite a bit of oak in there.  I’m hoping my mother will let me get rid of some of these, and encourage the oak, instead.  They are planted way too close together to be able to grow well.

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Here is the area that had the old toilet, rain barrel, and other debris in it.  It will still need more clean up before it’s finished, but it looks SO much better now!

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The rest of the rows of trees.  There is one willow in there, and the rest are maple and elm.  There are still dead branches on them, but they are too high to be able to clear.

I noticed, as I was clearing up against the house, that the willow has a huge root, running right under the building.  I guess it’s a good thing it’s just siting on blocks, or it would be causing all sorts of damage to a basement or foundation.

Let’s see if I can find some before pictures to include…

What a difference a few hours of work makes!

The Re-Farmer